Kristin Chenoweth gave a tearful tribute to Naya Rivera as she commemorated her late Glee co-star following the tragic news of her death.

The 51-year-old actress starred in Glee as a recurring character named April Rhodes who featured in five episodes across the six seasons of the show.

Naya featured as a series regular on the musical comedy as Santana Lopez – and tragically the TV star was found dead in Lake Piru, Ventura County, California, on Monday, aged 33, after hiring a boat to sail in the water with her four-year-old son, Josey.

On Tuesday, the cause of death of the actress was confirmed as accidental drowning – while police told reporters they believe the actress rescued her son from drowning by launching him onto the boat after they had been in the water, but then failed to get herself back on board.

Kristin Chenoweth paid tribute to Naya Rivera in an online video post

Kristin took to social media on Tuesday where she broke down in tears during an emotional video post where she offered hope and support to fans.

She said: “A long time ago I was invited to be a guest star on a show called Glee. I had the honour of meeting all my babies, those kids.

“They still make me proud. And I want them to know I still love them. I am proud of them.”

Kristin broke down in tears as she delivered her touching tribute

Addressing the tragic death of Naya, she continued: “With Naya gone, I know how that hurts them. She was such a sweet, sweet child.”

Wiping away tears, Kristin continued: “To see her saving her baby, really, you know – it hits me.

Offering a hopeful message, she went on: “My friend, John Sawyer, passed away on Mother’s Day. My oldest, and longest friend, and I thought maybe John was up in heaven with her, preparing the way.

“I just want to tell you all not to lose hope. It’s going to be ok. You need to have a big cry like I’m doing now.”

Gwyneth Paltrow on Glee
Kristin, right, was one of the recurring guest stars on Glee
Naya played cheerleader Santana Lopez on Glee
Police confirmed the body of Naya Rivera had been recovered from Lake Piru on Monday

Kristin’s message resonated with fans, with one writing on Twitter : “I’m completely heartbroken. I’ve never even cried over the death of a celebrity before but Naya was just and will forever be such a light in this world.”

Tributes have been shared from fans and colleagues of the Glee star since her body was recovered from Lake Piru on Monday after a six day search.

Glee co-creators Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan, have set up a trust fund for Naya's son – who she shared with ex-husband Ryan Dorsey – to cover his future college fees.